ATP Stars Hit The Hardwood In Auckland
The rising stars of the ATP World Tour are ready to take the ASB Classic by storm this week in Auckland. But first, they tested their skills on a court of a different kind.
#NextGenATP Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas joined reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung in a visit to the SKYCITY Breakers, a professional basketball team based in Auckland. The players took part in drills during the team’s pregame warm-up, practising ball handling skills and shooting, before going head-to-head in a 3-on-3 game.
"I've never played basketball before and I've only watched it on TV, but I had a very good time today," said Chung. "It's difficult. Shooting and dribbling are not easy.
"It's my first time in Auckland and it's a nice city. I'm feeling good for the tournament."
Chung will open his Auckland campaign against Kyle Edmund, seeking revenge after falling to the Brit in three sets last week in Brisbane. Fourth seed John Isner potentially awaits in the second round.
"I like basketball very much and it's a very good opportunity," added Tsitsipas, who faces lucky loser Lukas Lacko in the first round. It was a pleasure to hang out with these guys. It's a good start for the tournament this week.
"I feel very motivated and good with my tennis. When you have these kind of wins, you feel like you can beat anyone. Coming to New Zealand has been on my bucket list and I'm happy to be here."
The 19-year-old Greek was awarded a main draw wild card after enjoying a breakout 2017 season. Up to No. 80 in the ATP Rankings, he is coming off a quarter-final appearance at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, where he stunned Richard Gasquet.
Tsitsipas and Shapovalov are two of three teenagers in the Top 100 (also Frances Tiafoe). Shapovalov, the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates, opens against Rogerio Dutra Silva with a potential second round blockbuster against Juan Martin del Potro in the cards. The Canadian saved four match points to defeat Dutra Silva in Montreal last year.
"I've worked hard in the offseason and while it's always difficult at the start of the year," said Shapovalov. "You don't know where your game is at, but I'm confident I'm going to play great."
The ASB Classic is the biggest men’s professional sporting event in New Zealand and has been held in Auckland since 1956. Defending champion Jack Sock is the top seed, with four-time winner David Ferrer seeded seventh.